It’s surprising how many of my friends these days do not have children. The reasons vary:
Mary never wanted children. She was delighted to marry a man who already had three kids from his first marriage and didn’t want any more. She has a close relationship with her stepchildren and step-grandchildren while remaining free to live her busy life as a music teacher and choir director.
Cathy, who is gay, has a wonderful marriage with her wife Rhonda. She never saw herself as a mother, but anyone who knows her can testify that she serves as a mother to everyone, always taking care of people, whether they need food, medical care, rides, or a shoulder to cry on.
Lori had a hysterectomy when she was young. She and her husband Steve have led an adventurous life pursuing his marine biology career across the U.S. Now they’re living in New Zealand, where she’s turning into a real “kiwi.”
Charlotte is not married, has no kids but leads a busy life managing a quaint local hotel and keeping our writing group going.
Sue, my favorite yoga teacher, never had her own children. Her husband has grown offspring from his previous marriage, and she enjoys their company. The rest of the time, she’s happy as a dogmom and yogini.
My buddy Bill has neither married nor had children. Now 65, he recently survived a health scare that has left him grateful just to be able to breathe, eat, walk and talk. He started out wanting to be a priest. Although he didn’t follow through on that career, he still lives the celibate single life and devotes himself to his four nieces and nephews.
Many of my other friends do have kids, but the children and grandchildren live elsewhere. My friends disappear now and then to visit them, but those children do not divide us because we have so many other things in common, things like music, writing, yoga, or church.
When you’re in your 20s, 30s and early 40s, it can seem as if everyone you know is having babies, that you are the only odd duck not reproducing. But you’re not. If, like so many people who comment at this blog, you are struggling to decide what to do, know that you may be left out of the Mom Club, but there are plenty of other clubs to join. One in five American women (with similar numbers in other countries) are reaching menopause without having babies. The number is edging toward one in four. You are not the only one. You are not weird. As you engage in the things that interest you, you will find other people like you. There is life to be lived and enjoyed even if you don’t ever become a mother or father, and as you get older, it will get easier.
Copyright 2014 Sue Fagalde Lick
4 thoughts on “Childless need not be friendless”
I appreciate you pointing out the various reasons and circumstances why some people end up leading childless lives. It's important for me to realize that life can be fulfilling in other meaningful ways. I think what makes it difficult to keep that in perspective is how society pressures us to conform to that “traditional” family mold.
As you mentioned, the 20s and 30s are the ages when people are forming families. As I am in my late 30s, I am in the “left out of the Mom Club” for now but hopefully with time this will pass. Once the cloud has lifted, I hope to find other ways to connect with others. It's hard though! Once I joined a book club but left it when I suddenly found myself the only one who wasn't pregnant! It was a little awkward for me.
I will find my way and your posts are helping me make the journey less painful and alone. Thanks!
Thanks, Danielle. There will always be some things we're left out of. For example, a group of women I wrote a book with is now doing a book on postpartum depression. Not having had a baby, I can't contribute. Grr. But it does get way easier. I'm glad my blog is helping.
I am thankful that I came across this site. I just returned from a yoga class where, lying in shivasana, tears began rolling into my ears. I frequently find myself caught off guard by wells of emotion. Every year, it seems, I become more and more panicked about my decision to be with a man that does not want children. I have frightening visions of lonely isolation, forgotten about in an old age home cared for by uninvested strangers. I am surrounded by friends with children all smiles and sharing the joy that they bring. I am overcome with the need to find my passion ……something that will fill me with purpose, something that will keep me from lazing around and wallowing in self-pity, something to love.I used to dream about a little girl eating cereal at a breakfast bar. It's hard to let her go. I'm getting older. 43 now. Perhaps this is why I'm becoming more and more emotional about all of this. Anyway, it's really great to hear voices of others in similar situations.
Oh Anonymous, I feel your pain. You will probably not stop missing the children you never had, but it will get easier, and you don't have to end up alone in old age. Reach out to other people, family and friends who will be there for you and you for them. I hope you can find your purpose. I know my own work makes all the difference in the world.